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Reuters Health Information (2014-02-11): Clinical applications of Magnetic Resonance Elastography growing


Clinical applications of Magnetic Resonance Elastography growing

Last Updated: 2014-02-11 11:38:30 -0500 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Physicians have used Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRE) to evaluate liver disease for the past five years, but a lengthening list of other applications for the imaging technology are coming on line, researchers say.

"I believe that the most likely application to be adopted next in clinical practice will be to use MRE to evaluate brain tumors preoperatively," Dr. Richard Ehman, a radiologist at Mayo Clinic and president and CEO of Resoundant Inc. in Rochester, Minnesota, told Reuters Health by email.

"Our preliminary experience is that MRE provides a reliable preoperative assessment of meningioma stiffness, which is extremely valuable information for surgical planning," Dr. Ehman said.

Dr. Ehman presented data from his work with MRE on February 4 at the American Society of Mechanical Engineering's third annual conference on Nanoengineering for Medicine and Biology in San Francisco, California.

Based on MR imaging, MRE gathers data from acoustic shear waves as they pass through and interact with the body. The result is maps showing the mechanical characteristics of the tissue - properties such as stiffness, viscosity, and anisotropy - or how its properties change from different angles.

Data from 4000 patients suggest that MRE is at least as accurate as liver biopsy for diagnosis of liver fibrosis, and it may be safer, more comfortable, and less expensive, Dr. Ehman wrote in conference materials.

Other applications under study include preoperative brain tumor analysis, analysis of the skeletal muscle, heart, and lungs, and diagnosis of breast and prostate cancer.

The findings are "very exceptional," said Dr. Jerry Lee, health sciences director at the U.S. National Cancer Institute, who attended the conference but is not involved in MRE research.

"I think it is a real life demonstration of how mechanical engineering theories are being applied to human disease right now," Dr. Lee told Reuters Health.

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